Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Programming again

Recently I downloaded the latest version of Lazarus, the rapid application development tool that uses Free Pascal. It's a clone of Delphi but open source and cross platform. I've used it for hobby program development for the last few years, when I was no longer able to get free copies of Delphi. But now I actually prefer Lazarus to Delphi. It's like how Delphi used to be.

The Lazarus IDE
In Lazarus I have been making a few changes to my logging program for Elecraft transceivers, KComm. Programming again marks another milestone in my return to normality, though in all honesty the time it takes and the number of stupid mistakes I make show that my brain still isn't firing on all cylinders.

Why write my own logging program when there are so many good alternatives available? For one thing it is the same motivation that makes people build their own gear. For another, it allows me to use a program that works the way I want. If I want a certain feature then I get on and implement it. By limiting its use to the Elecraft community I avoid the troubles encountered by, say, the developers of Ham Radio Deluxe: the problem of dealing with thousands of users. There are probably only a handful of users of KComm, but that's all right because I'm mainly developing it for my own use.

KComm can speak Russian
An example of what writing my own software allows me to do can be seen in the screenshot above. KComm supports user choice of character set for digital modes. So that if someone sends me a message in Russian (for instance) I can see what they sent (and copy and paste it into Google Translate, since I don't speak Russian.)

This should not be taken as a sign that I will start writing new programs again. I'm just making a few changes to programs I use myself. I have downloaded the source code to the last released version of JT65-HF (which happens to have been developed in Lazarus too.) Perhaps one day I'll see if I can make a few tweaks to that!
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